Thursday, June 5, 2014

Niçoise salad - an evening of ambitious cooking


The other night I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, and inspiration struck: tonight I will learn to make Niçoise salad!


I first tried a Niçoise salad a few months ago while my family was in Whistler skiing. We were dining at Araxi, the food was divine, the wine list was sensational, and I’ve been obsessed with trying this dish for myself ever since.

I love to cook, and I am a firm believer in trying new things, but if inspiration strikes you while arriving at the grocery store, just go home. Otherwise you will learn two things the hard way 
  1. This is going to be an expensive shopping trip
  2. The preparation time before you can eat is FAR longer than you think


With that in mind, this salad actually turned out petty delicious, so I'm not only going to write out the recipe, but order it in such a way that you can cut down your time by multi tasking (something the recipe I followed did NOT do, which led to poorly budgeted time and a hungry-hungry-Laura!)

Niçoise Salad – Serves 4

Start with your Dressing:

Ingredients:
  •  3 anchovy fillets, drained
  •  1/8 tsp kosher salt
  •  1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 gloves chopped garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard (I use whole grain Dijon mustard)
  • ½ cup light olive oil
  • 2 tsp capers, drained and chopped (optional but VERY nice)



Directions:

In a medium bowl, mash the anchovy, salt, pepper and garlic into a paste. I used a fork, but I would recommend grabbing your pestle and mortar if you have them! Add the egg and whisk well to blend.

Add the lemon juice and mustard and whisk well until a bit frothy. Pour in the oil, whisking constantly until dressing is nice and thick.

Add in the capers and adjust your seasoning to taste. Then pop it in the fridge, covered, until you’re almost ready to eat!

Now it’s time to prep your salad.

Salad Fixings -
Ingredients:

  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 8-10 mini red potatoes, scrubbed and cut length wise in half
  •   ¾ cup of green beans, trimmed and quartered
  • Fresh Atlantic Salmon Steak – roughly 2lbs (OR TUNA)
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs fresh rosemary
  • Handful (approx ½ cup) Cherry tomatoes, cut in half 
  • 1/3 cup halved and seeded black olives (Niçoise if you can get them! But Kalamata works fine)
  • 1/3  cup halved and seeded green olives
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • A few anchovy fillets cut into thirds width wise (I just used what was left in the container from making the dressing)
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley leaves



Directions:

1) Start by hard boiling your eggs. If you've never done this before (I hadn't!) there’s a great “how to” here.

2) Once those are in the “simmering” phase, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook until JUST tender. Drain in colander and set aside. Repeat this same step but with the green beans. Mix these in a medium sized bowl and put them aside.

By the time this is done you’re ready to take your eggs out to cool.

3) Next, grab your fish. I used a thick salmon steak because I’m not a huge fan of tuna, but if you want to do it properly, use the tuna. Cut your fish into 4 equal portions and season with the salt and pepper. Next heat the oil on the stove in a large skillet. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the rosemary and tuna. It’s best to cook to a medium rare (mine was a VERY light pink in the middle) but I’m going to say “cook until you’re comfortable”. Remove your fish from the pan and cut into 1-inch pieces, Cover and set aside (I actually put mine in the fridge to cool)

4) While your fish is cooling down a bit, you can chop up the rest of your fixings. Start with the olives, tomatoes and red peppers. Slice according to the “ingredients” list. Once they’re all chopped, arrange separately on one side of a nice tray.

5) Your eggs should be nice and cool by now, so peel and slice those up (I cut mine into thirds width wise) along with the extra anchovy fillets and arrange them along the top of the tray

6) Grab the green beans and potatoes. Take your dressing and pour ¼ cup of dressing over top and mix. Once they’re nice and coated, arrange them on the opposite side of the tray from where your olives are.

You’ll notice a big empty hole in the middle of your tray! Let’s fill it with the green stuff! Wash and tear your salad into bite sized pieces. Throw it into a bowl with the parsley and then pour over some of your dressing and mix it up - don’t drown it, just coat it lightly. Arrange it in the middle of the tray, then take your fish and place it on top of the lettuce!

If you wanted, you could forgo the tray and just throw everything into a bowl… but I promise you the tray is much prettier!


You’re done! Pop it on the table and then tell people to select what they want for their plates.  Put any extra dressing in a nice bowl or gravy boat, just in case people feel they want to add more (I did!).

This was a GREAT summer meal. Kris and I felt so fancy eating it. It would be a fabulous addition for a picnic, or served as an appetizer (just adjust for numbers!).



up